By, Jama Frederick
This past fall, my then boyfriend and I traveled from Jasper, Tennessee and finally went on a dream trip, not only a Pike County hunt, but a whitetail hunt with Hadley Creek Outfitters!
We had booked the hunt earlier in the year and highly anticipated the hunt for months. We arrived at Hadley Creek’s Lodge on the afternoon of Friday, October 2nd. We unloaded our stuff and got settled in our room.
With winds at 20+ mph and forecasted for the upcoming days, I was anxious to get out to the archery range to practice. Jeremy was taking forever getting his stuff together, changing clothes, and fidgeting with his video camera. Unbeknownst to me, he was getting ready to film something pretty important!
We went out to the archery range and were practicing. While I was shooting, Jeremy had been squatting behind me handing me arrows as I shot. When I turned for the last arrow, Jeremy was on one knee with the ring resting on the fletching of the arrow.
I can remember seeing the sun reflecting off the ring and Jeremy saying, “Jama, will you marry me?” I then grabbed Jeremy and hugged him, totally shocked at what just happened! Finally Jeremy had to say, “So, is that a yes?” I am never speechless, but was able to get out a “YES!” followed by, “Does my momma know?” Yes, of course Jeremy had gotten all of the approvals from my closest family and friends without my knowledge.
Jeremy and I were both living a dream in the following hours and days. The lodge was perfect. Our guides and fellow hunters were friendly, knowledgeable, and accommodating. The food was good. We were seeing more deer in those days than we often see in an entire season. We had encounters and close calls with beautiful shooter bucks, but had been unable to close the deal.
During one evening hunt, Jeremy spotted a buck from his stand that had been hit by a fellow hunter. This deer had been tracked for two days. The Hadley Creek crew was able to recover that deer and we learned that it was the hunter’s first buck ever. That made it such a neat story. We were thrilled.
We were anxious going into our final day of hunting on Thursday, October 8th. The forecast showed high temperatures, but we remained hopeful! That day, Hadley Creek’s owner, Alan, was our guide. We had booked our hunt with him in February and were excited to hunt with him on a farm that hadn’t been hunted yet that season.
Before sunrise, I already had traffic with a nice 8-point that walked directly under my stand. Unsure if he was a shooter, I let him walk. With the green light from Alan to harvest a doe, I decided to shoot one. After my shot, the doe laid down at 14 yards, paralyzed.
As I was freaking out, calling between Jeremy and our guide deciding if I should shoot her again, I hung up and turned to nock another arrow. Just then, my buck was standing about 45 yards away. After an intense stare-down, I was able to nock the arrow, stand up and turned around. I shot him at 28 yards as he was walking off.
I called Jeremy back and said, “I just shot a buck!” He said, “WHAT!? A buck?” I said, “Yes! He just came in I shot him!” So we went through the usual questions of how I hit him, how he ran, etc. We ended up having to leave Jeremy in his stand a few more hours because the buck ran in his direction and we didn’t want to bump him.
I was a nervous wreck all day waiting to go track my buck! That doe was my first ever bow kill. The buck would be my first archery buck and my biggest deer to date. After dropping Jeremy off in his stand for the evening hunt and the last hunt of the trip, went to look for my buck.
My buck had only run about 60 yards and died mid-stride. It was a perfect, double lung shot. I was clearly ecstatic. We took him back to the lodge to take some photos. Meanwhile, Jeremy was hunting a nice food plot, trying to close the deal. Right as we are finished taking photos of my buck, I received a text that said, “SMOKED HIM.” Jeremy had just shot a mainframe 10-point at 41 yards with less than an hour left of daylight on the trip!
Right after he shot, a 160-class buck with a third horn stepped out. The luck! But we ran back to the farm to meet Jeremy and didn’t see immediate blood. It was already dark. We didn’t want to take any chances of bumping him, so we had a sleepless night ahead.
The next morning Jeremy went out with the guides. They found his deer within 50 yards, just inside the woods. This was literally our dream come true and we could not have written a better ending to our trip. We left Illinois engaged and with the biggest bucks of our lives.